Feature: Trail Swapping Part 2
Photo: Simon D Barnes
I relaxed and survey the scene, I then realised where we would ride to next, I suddenly panicked - No trees, just naked open moors.
climbs. I examined the ground; yellow Yorkshire grit poking out of the dark peat earth making its grippy rocky sections easy to find. No slips, no heavy sticky mud that sucked you to the ground, no roots, just right. I certainly had no complaints. Sharon was still close by, and kept to her steady, unwavering pace. We moved onwards towards the top of the next climb. The boys eagerly waited for us at the plateau before the final push to the summit. At that time each rider had to exert maximum effort to get up the steep winding lane to the farmhouse. Once I arrived at the top, I enjoyed looking out over the undulating moors and the reservoirs below. While I got my breath back and the drumming of my heart slowed, we discussed where Dave had gone. Having disappeared on the climb, he arrived walking over the crest of the hill with a sheepish look on his face. A damaged taper on Dave’s cranks had hindered his climbing progress. Oh dear, he wasn’t really having much luck today. We passed through a farm taking the ‘Hambledon lane’, the scenery changed and the road disappeared from time to time, negotiating small valleys before re-emerging onto the moor. At the food stop, having stuffed my face, I sat and wondered if there would be still more climbing to do. I relaxed and surveyed the scene, I then realised where we would ride to next, I suddenly
Boys, they are the same everywhere. Always 20 yards ahead.
panicked - no trees, just naked open moors. Later I hid myself behind a mossy dry stone wall for modesty and gazed at the far horizon fading away into the grey clouds. The southern trails constantly change through the year in tune with the weather - leaves cover trails, trees fall in the lanes; there’s mud, there’s dust, roots and puddles. But here, I imagined it to be unchanging throughout the year. Am I wrong? I was amazed at how dark the soil is - a black peat-based mud mixed with gritstone make up the puddles. It’s not sticky and never clogs bikes up [though it does destroy chains and brakepads – Ed], which allowed us to ride onwards without it constantly packing up like at home. Lovely.
Black puddles and ice cream. The essential feature of the singletrack on the flat-topped moor was that it was narrow. In addition it was frequently smooth and flowing on black earth and the exposed gritstone with eerie black puddles. It also exhibited some technical rocky sections. We soon settled into the flow in a long singletrack line, a gentle downwards slope eventually leading us to the Ogden Water Lake and a small caféé. Well, more of a tourist shop with a coffee machine. We stopped for ice creams(!), I was more interested in the traditional drinks that I hadn’t tried before - namely cream soda and Dandelion ‘We call this the Drop of Doom. No pressure...’
Photo: Simon D Barnes